Kids Should Choose If They Want to See Their Grandparents After Divorce
As the old saying goes, you don’t get to divorce your family. But as a child of divorce (and as a child who dealt with even more serious family issues, including mental illness), I respectfully disagree. Sometimes, kids are better off being separated from certain family members, at least for a time. This separation may include a child’s biological parent and even grandparents.
Let’s start with this Reddit example below:
My girlfriend has 3 young kids 2 boys age 7 and a girl age 6. She has been divorced a couple years now and is moving on with her life the best she can. The kids dad is a stereotypical lame ass that thinks his child support is all the kids ever need. Basically if you ask him if he can help pay for football registration or to go halves on a new bicycle, he just says she is a bad mom for not being able to provide what HIS kids need and he can’t afford to keep sending money for, as he says “the kids.” He claims that because he doesn’t make a lot of money and had expensive car payments and pricy car insurance, he cannot afford to help with the kids more than the courts order. Plus the kids don’t really care for him because they say he lies to them and is mean to them. That’s just what it’s like with him.
My question is with the kids other grandma. They do not live around where the kids live and go to school. My girlfriends mom lives in the same city as the kids other grandma and she has been taking them to visit her when she visits her own mother. Problem is the other grandma makes no effort to see the kids when she brings them to town. My girlfriend always has to being them to her at her expense and she is always very rude to my GF when she shows up with them (says she is looking fatter, has bad clothes, ugly hair, etc). To add insult to injury she often sends them back home with outrageous gifts like goldfish, messy toys, toys made for older kids like puzzle toys you have to build, etc. She even went as far to give them haircuts without asking my GF if it was ok. Should my GF keep bringing them to their other grandmother considering she does not approve of how she is with them or how she treats her?
This is a truly tough situation after divorce that I hope no child ever has to go through. I can also identify because although I had a good relationship with my paternal grandparents after my parents’ divorce, there were many times when I felt that I was not going into a stable situation when I visited my dad on the weekends.
I’ve mentioned before that my dad most likely struggled with mental illness and now seems to have gotten treatment. When I talk to my mom about it, she naturally feels guilty and often wonders if she should have kept us from seeing him or limited visitation on the weekends. Now that I am older, I think she is right. I do know that when I was put in a situation where I was forced to visit a family member, my father, who wasn’t entirely stable, it did irreparable damage to me as a kid.
There were plenty of times when my dad wasn’t mentally or emotionally ready to have us over on the weekend. He never physically abused us, but I believe that he emotionally abused us. I have memories of visiting his house on a weekend, and he would shut himself up in his room and not talk to us for 48 hours or longer. As a kid, I panicked because I couldn’t drive, and I didn’t know who to call. We would just wait for him to “get better” and come out and take us home when the weekend was over. It was terrifying.
Now, I know that my situation was different from the situation with the grandmother described above. I am also not implying that this grandmother is mentally ill, only that she seems not to have the kids’ best interests at heart. What I am saying is this: Kids need to be protected at all costs after a divorce. If the kids are old enough to decide if they want to visit their own father or their paternal grandmother (who appears to have issues), they should be allowed to.
Kids are smart. Kids can sense when something is going on. Kids who feel unsafe in a situation may not tell you unless you ask. This is exactly why kids shouldn’t be forced into potentially unstable visitations after divorce.